In Live more simply

Each of us carries a burden that others can’t see

Last week I spent a few hours every day with a total stranger.  More accurately, he was a total stranger to begin with but by the end of our week of transacting business, we got to know each other a little better.    In between business, we shared a few personal things, mainly about our respective families.  He has one child, a daughter, whom he dotes on and overprotects (which he freely acknowledged).  We laughed and shared a few sweet daughter stories.    Knowing that I work in Africa he wistfully said he would love to go there and I of course encouraged him to make a plan.   A sadness came into his voice as he said, “I would love to travel, but my wife is afraid of flying.”   Observing this momentary sadness, I saw reflected in his eyes a glimpse of the burden we all carry that others can’t see.

Every one of us carries a burden placed there by the actions of somebody else.  We hurt because of something said or done by a trusted friend, a parent, a spouse, or even a child.  We carry this burden, carefully tucked away from view but heavy enough to make us walk with a limp.   Those around us see our flawed walk but they don’t necessarily see or know the burden that caused it.

Like everybody else, I carry my fair share of burdens.  But here is what I have discovered about burdens:

  • They can be made lighter. Finding someone to help you carry it can make all the difference.  A dear friend, whose teenage son was an alcoholic, found much comfort in joining a support group of people who also had loved ones who were alcoholics.
  • They can be rearranged. Sometimes balancing the load makes it more manageable to carry.   Another friend finally accepted that she could not care for her aging mother, who suffered from dementia, on her own.  She allowed a caregiver to come in three days a week to help her and give her much needed time to find the balance in her life again.
  • They can be laid down. The deep relief I felt when laying down a heavy burden I carried from childhood was life altering.  I forgave.
  • They can be given away. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

When we observe another walking with a limp, may we tread softly, may we whisper a prayer of compassion, my we gently ease beside them and help lift the load.  May we do to others as we would have them do to us.

Question: What do you think helps to ease the load, either for ourselves or for others?  Join in the conversation by leaving a comment.

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Marcia
    at

    I have a daughter suffering from a long term illness. Through the help of a professional counselor, we have learned ways to deal with the anger, frustration and pain of her illness. Of course, the best part of this experience was that we started with prayer to find a solution and this was God’s answer for us. Thank you for the post. It is very helpful to hear of others having hidden burdens and how they are dealing with them.

    • Reply
      Michelle Tessendorf
      at

      You are so wise Marcia to have sought out professional counseling to help you deal with the illness. Of course, the Master Counsellor is always just a prayer away too.

  • Reply
    Faustina Washburn
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    Truely trusting jesus is the key. turn it over to God. I am being tested with this have just being notified I have skin cancer. I have to get serious in my prayers to get peace.
    It always helps to have friends and family praying for you and standing with you.A hug, not a “fix it” always gives peace.

    • Reply
      Michelle Tessendorf
      at

      Faustina, I have said a prayer for you. May you find the peace you are seeking. It is so true that friends and family standing by makes such an incredible difference to our load. Thank you for sharing with me.

  • Reply
    Jerry Houston
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    My son-in-law, Aaron, who shares my birthday, has Huntingdon’s Disease. this degenerative illiness is generational and attacks mental and physical being. To watch him degenerate, lose control and become someone who he is not is very painful for our family, and especially for his wife and daughter, our daughter and granddaughter. We have joined the fight to find a cure for this terrible disease that attacks people in their late thirties and early forties, for which there is no cure.

    We do not know God’s plan for Aaron, but we do know that he is with him and all of us every day as we fight back against this terrible illiness.

    • Reply
      Michelle Tessendorf
      at

      I can’t imagine the pain and frustration your family must go through. Aaron, your daughter and grand-daughter are blessed to have you standing by them through this.

  • Reply
    Michael Dahl
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    There are very real and heavy burdens like those shared by the others in this post. Thanks for your insights Michelle in ways to ‘carry’ them. I would add that there are times we carry burdens that aren’t even ours to carry! Those should also be laid down. Good idea not to compare burdens as well – it doesn’t help or empower.

    • Reply
      Michelle Tessendorf
      at

      Very wise words Michael. Excellent contribution. Thank you.

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